Going into their third preseason game against the Tennessee Titans, Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith is not pleased at all with all the “Happy Meals” they are giving away as teams have struck gold against his backup special teams two games in a row.
“This is the second week in a row that we’ve had a punt returned for a touchdown. That’s something we need to address and we definitely will,” Smith said, according to the Associated Press.
In their preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, Dane Sanzenbacher ran back 71 yards on a punt return, as he went straight up the middle against the Falcons’ special teams almost untouched. In that game, the Falcons lost 34-10, as Sanzenbacher made other contributions as well.
In their most previous game against the Baltimore Ravens, once again the Falcons’ punt return coverage was an epic fail and than some, as they allowed Asa Jackson to race away to the end zone for the winning score. The Falcons ended up losing the game 27-23, after being up 16 points early in the third quarter.
If I had to put an overall grade on the Falcons’ backup special teams that is mostly made up of rookies, it is probably a very low grade at this point. To give up field position is one thing, to allow someone to run a punt return for a touchdown is another, but to give up a punt return touchdown as the winning score is just not acceptable.
So much for the rookies who wanted to make a positive impression on Smith and his coaching staff, as they have gotten off to a terrible start.
“Those are young guys that are going through a steep learning curve to learn how we do it here at the Atlanta Falcons,” Smith said.
If any of these rookies hope to make the team’s 53-man roster, they better hope that they don’t allow another punt return touchdown in their next game against the Titans… period.